Newly appointed President of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party Vijay Goel tells Gyan Varma that the party would replicate Gujarat’s development model in Delhi if it comes to power
In the next Delhi Assembly election, you’ll lead the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has already served three consecutive terms here. What is your strategy?
The BJP has shown faith in me to head the party in Delhi, and that is a big challenge. Fighting against Dikshit is not challenging given the misdeeds of her government. In the last 14 years, she has failed to keep her promise of turning Delhi into Paris; in fact, it has turned into a slum. In terms of inflation, yes, Delhi is like Paris. But it’s a slum because four million people are living in unauthorised colonies and three million in jhuggi jhopari clusters. In her three terms, Dikshit and her government made many false promises — for which the Delhi Lokayukta indicted her.
Among the challenges ahead of me, one is that of rising power tariffs in Delhi, which millions of people are unable to afford. The distribution companies had promised 24X7 power at low rates. But, on the contrary, power cuts are frequent and tariffs are high. There is no check, since the Delhi government and the discoms are hand in glove. Half of Delhi’s population doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. This is not because of water shortage but the inefficiency of the management. Another challenge is the law and order situation here. What can I say about a chief minister who says Delhi is not safe for women? In her capacity as the chief minister, how can she make such a comment? Despite the Congress’ rule at the Centre, and at the state level, she said women are insecure and unsafe. Delhi has a bad image not only in India but the whole world now. Countries are issuing advisories that Delhi is not safe for their citizens to visit.
The BJP’s Delhi unit is riddled with different camps and groups. How will you bring the party together for the election?
The BJP is a democratic party; we hold organisational elections. The day we hold an organisational election, the party is in two or more groups. We’re not a one-man party. All leaders of Delhi were present when I was made the president; similarly, all leaders were present when we held protests at Jantar Mantar. There was a huge crowd because of the combined efforts of the BJP leadership. My job is to infuse enthusiasm in the party cadre, and we promise to replicate Gujarat’s development model here.
You have asked the BJP cadre to work for 200 days continuously to help the party come to power in Delhi...
I am left with only 200 days before the Assembly election, so we have to work tirelessly now. If the BJP cadre works hard for these 200 days, the party will be in power in Delhi.
If you look back at the last Assembly election in Delhi in 2008, why do you think the BJP failed to win the election?
There were some internal mistakes, which I would not like to elaborate. We need to handle the distribution of tickets better — that will be our priority. We need to raise issues that concern people the most, including corruption, inflation, power, water, law and order.
Apart from the burden of winning the Assembly election, you need to ensure that the party performs well in Delhi in the Lok Sabha election, which is a few months after the Assembly polls. What is your strategy? How many seats are you targeting given all the seven seats are with the Congress?
Earlier, all the seven seats were with the BJP for three consecutive terms — during the 11th, the 12th and the 13th Lok Sabha. We have to prepare simultaneously for the Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha elections.
Are you the chief ministerial candidate of the party? Will you contest the Assembly election in Delhi?
I am only concentrating on my work and duties as the Delhi BJP president. The BJP leadership has given me the responsibility to organise and manage the affairs of the party, so that we can defeat the Congress both in the Assembly and general elections.
The demography of the state has gone through tremendous changes in the last 15 years. How will you inspire the new voters, who’re mostly people from different parts of the country, to vote for the party?
These people are facing the same issues like the other residents of the state. Delhi is the national capital, and everyone is welcome here. Although these people, whether they are labourers, government servants or private sector employees, are working for Delhi, they are facing umpteen problems. We have to provide facilities to people — housing, water and power, among others.
Do you agree with the Delhi chief minister’s demand that the Delhi Police should report to the chief minister, and not the home ministry? How do you plan to address the issue of unsafety of women in the capital?
There is a difference between making a statement and taking action to address an issue. Why hasn’t Dikshit raised her voice for statehood for Delhi in the last 14 years of her being in power? I want to ask the chief minister that even if the police was not under her, what has been the performance of all the other departments that are under her — whether it is electricity, water, night shelter, health and education. She is hiding away by saying the police is not under her. The BJP wants full statehood for Delhi, which means we want both police and land.
Apart from contesting against the established parties like the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party, the BJP will have to face competition from social activist Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party. What is your strategy for the party that is already riding high on its anti-corruption campaigns?
There are 30 to 40 political parties in Delhi. All these parties are like the Aam Aadmi Party. So, it is their right to work, and I have nothing to say about them. A political party takes many years to connect with the people, and win the faith of people.